Sunday, October 1, 2017

Nagasaki - Gunkanjima Island

Hashima is the official name for this abandoned island, but it is called Gunkanjima, which means Battleship Island because it looks like a battleship.  The 16 acre island, known for undersea coal mines, was established in 1887. At its peak, it was the most densely populated area in the world, with 5259 inhabitants in 1959.  

Coal was first discovered on the island in 1810 and Mitusbishi bought the island in 1890 and began extracting the coal. The company build apartment buildings, schools, a hospital, town hall, and a community center. The island was continuously inhabited from 1887 to 1974. The island was closed and abandoned in 1974.  Some buildings have collapsed due to the typhoons and weather.  The island was approved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2015. 

I was undecided about taking the half day tour because it was a little pricey (4500 yen), but I am glad I did.  When I bought my ticket, I was told the tour was only in Japanese and I said I was okay with that, knowing I wouldn't know what was going on, but at least I could see it.  There are concrete pathways that you have to stay on while visiting the island.  You aren't allowed to wander around where ever you want because it would be too dangerous.

As the boat took us out, the captain or someone talked over the loud speaker and pointed out the sights.  I didn't get everything that was said, but I could understand bridge, Catholic Church, on the left or on the right, years, etc.

Just before we landed, one of the boat employees tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for me to follow him.  I found out I would have my very own tour guide - in English.  There was a group of about 100 with a Chinese speaking tour guide and another Japanese language group of about 150 (the guides had loud speakers) and me with my own guide! I felt like a VIP.

After the on island tour, we all got back on the boat and it went around the island to give us a good look at what we had just seen.  I'm really glad I took the tour - it was very interesting to imagine how the people lived.  There was a swimming pool and schools. Residents brought back dirt from Nagasaki to make roof top vegetable gardens. There were pubic baths in each apartment building.  

If you go to Nagasaki, I highly recommend the tour! 

Here is a YouTube program about this island that I found -   


Vireya said...

It looks a bit like Alcatraz. Or maybe any island with abandoned buildings has a similar look!

Lucky you, getting a personal VIP English tour.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pamela ,wow this tour looks amazing so much to see on this tour,glad you really enjoyed it my friend xx

kiwikid said...

Seems a shame it has all been abandoned,it looks like a small place for so many people to be living there. Very special to have your own guide!! Thanks for the tour.

Queeniepatch said...

I am sure all visitors left with an impression of what life must have been in such a closed and crammed community.
You were lucky to get our private guide!

Leonore Winterer said...

I wonder what's it like to live on such a small island! It's awesome that you got your very own guide.